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Prospect Lists: Buy vs. Build


If you lead a growing business, you probably regularly receive emails like this:


However, there are generally several reasons why we instinctively don’t capitalize on these offers:

  • Uncertainty about how old the contacts are: Executives change jobs every 3-5 years on average. If a list is even a few months old, a substantial percentage of contacts are invalid.
  • Uncertainty about how well these companies and contacts match your target profile: You know your target profile but how can you be sure the list is truly customized to match it?

The cold hard reality is that purchased lists can pose several risks to your business, including:

  • Your team’s time: With high bounce rates and a questionable fit with your target profile, your marketing and sales team will waste time dealing with undeliverable messages and engaging prospects that don’t fit your profile.
  • Your brand: Purchased lists often have bad data and can result in sending messages with clearly inaccurate data, potentially damaging your brand.
  • Your data quality: With many out-of-date contacts, you end up with a CRM overloaded with worthless data.
  • Your marketing capability: High bounce rates can result in the banning of your domain or worse.

As you consider whether to build or buy, consider these statistics:

  • Bounce rate: Purchased lists can see bounce rates in the 20-35% range due to several of the factors mentioned above. Building your own list in real time can yield bounce rates below 5%.
  • Open Rate: With purchased lists, open rates can be below 10% in many cases while a targeted list can result in open rates of 30-50% or more.

If you aren’t yet convinced of the dangers of a purchased list, see http://caniuseapurchasedemaillist.com/.

If your sales team is ready to target prospects, how do you get started? There are two main approaches:

  • Leverage a content marketing strategy to develop an opt-in list: This approach, generally leveraging marketing automation, can be very effective but can take 1-2 years to develop, with no guarantees of success.
  • Build your list from scratch: Through a concerted effort to profile your target accounts and titles, you can develop a home-grown list that avoids many of the pitfalls of buying a list.

For a guide on how to profile your target accounts and source lists, see our post on “Choosing Your Target Account Profile”.

To learn more about prospect research best practices or to get our assistance scaling your team’s efforts, contact us.

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“This article was originally posted by Prialto: The Virtual Support Service for Executives. Prialto Virtual Assistants are geared to actually pull your business forward and make delegating easy” 

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